For as long as professional sports have been played in the United States, the country has latched onto its homegrown talent and made their wins their own. Every year, the Super Bowl brings in millions of viewers, hitting as high as 118 million total viewers in 2018 and 117 million in 2020. Americans can’t help it: the country’s reputation was built on greats like Lawrence Taylor, Walter Payton, Jim Brown, and Joe Montana, and nothing in the US will ever surpass the love citizens have for its sports industry. What could change, however, is the popularity of particular sports in the country.
A Country On The Move
While football and baseball aren’t going anywhere, with college football a dominating force state-wide and baseball America’s pastime, we are seeing an increase in attraction to other sports and subsequently betting on these sports. For instance, in March 2021, Fox Sports disclosed that it had expanded its relationship with the New York Racing Association through 2030.
Ever since Fox Sports first started covering the New York Racing Association, the number of bets placed on horse racing in the US has increased. In 2020, more than $14 million in wagers were made on opening day at Churchill Downs, the home of the renowned Kentucky Derby. That’s a nearly 200% increase over 2019 and a solid indication that Americans are looking for something new in sports betting other than wagering on the NFL or NBA. Of course, this increase might have less to with Fox Sports and more to do with the popularity of horse racing in Great Britain and Ireland, where individuals not only bet on small odds but a variety of different bet types recommended by tipsters and journalists.
Over time, the United States has become increasingly influenced by sports in the United Kingdom. During the 2020/21 season, the English Premier League averaged more than 400 thousand viewers in the US on the NBC Sports network and 462 thousand the season before. As a result, with horse racing, which has remained popular in the UK since the early 1600s, creeping up in popularity in the United States and American fans starting to pay attention to UK sports, they might begin following and betting on Irish and English horse racing, too. After all, if Americans like the Kentucky Derby, they’ll love the Royal Ascot.
Additionally, it’s hard to imagine the UK’s influence on what sports Americans enjoy is going to fade anytime soon following Emma Raducanu’s 2021 US Open Win in early September. The 18-year-old tennis player from Bromley, England, has catapulted into fame in the United States, most recently attending New York’s glamorous Met Gala event.
The United States will always stay true to the sports that gave it the legacy it has, from football to baseball, but it’s evident times are changing. Whether it’s broadcasting services like Fox Sports showing more events, or Americans starting to follow leagues in other countries like the United Kingdom, horse racing is making predominant strides in the land of the free.